Colorado Avalanche at Ottawa Senators on Oct. 13, 2011

The Ottawa Senators have shown a level of heart and effort not seen in these parts in some time so far this season, fighting back from significant deficits in three games and coming up with a win. Now that everyone understands and appreciates that, perhaps they can play with a lead for the first time this season.

Colorado Avalanche at Ottawa Senators on Oct. 13, 2011
Kyle Turris #7 of the Ottawa Senators scores during the shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the game at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Senators defeated the Penguins 3-2 in a shootout. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)


THE STORY:
The Ottawa Senators have shown a level of heart and effort not seen in these parts in some time so far this season, fighting back from significant deficits in three games and coming up with one win. Now that everyone understands and appreciates that, perhaps they can play with a lead for once. Fortunately for the Senators, they might be catching a tired Avs squad, which eked out a shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets the night before.

THE SUBPLOTS: Back when it looked like the Senators would tank their way to a top-three lottery pick in the draft last summer, all of Ottawa was falling in love with Gabriel Landeskog. Of course, we all know what happened next — one team took off, the other continued to slide, and the Senators wound up picking Mika Zibanejad with the No. 6 pick after losing the draft lottery. Senators fans will get a look at what might have been as young Swede Landeskog skates here for the first time as an NHLer. He played the hero against Columbus Wednesday, scoring the game-tying goal in the dying minutes.

THE WILDCARD: Craig Anderson. The Ottawa Senators’ goaltender had a falling out with his former team over his contract last summer, leading the Avalanche to send him to the nation’s capital for netminder Brian Elliott (yes, that actually happened) last February. Pretty safe to assume that Anderson will be plenty motivated to shut down his former colleagues at Scotiabank Place.

THE OPPONENT: Everyone kind of chuckled this summer when Colorado general manager Greg Sherman shipped first and second round picks to the Washington Capitals for the rights to restricted free agent goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Injury-prone, they said. Unproven. Well, that may still be true, but Varlamov is delivering early on. He has two wins, one shutout and a .971 save percentage in three games so far this season.

THE QUOTE: “After that first year, I felt very well. I thought the organization was a great organization, somewhere I wanted to be. There was a lot of great history there, with the players they’ve had and the success they’ve had. It was unfortunate things didn’t get done. You have no control over it and go about your business as best you can.” — Anderson, reflecting on his time with the Avs.

THE SICK BAY: Senators — D Matt Carkner (knee), C Jesse Winchester (shoulder). Avalanche — RW Brandon Yip (broken arm), D Kyle Cumiskey (groin), C Mark Olver (head).

THE PREDICTION: The Senators showed a lot of character in battling back from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, but they aren’t going to win many games falling behind early. The Avalanche aren’t exactly known for stifling D (though a hot goalie helps) — they like to score goals. If they get a couple early ones, I don’t see another comeback in the offing. Senators 2, Avalanche 3. (See who the rest of our prediction panel likes in this one by clicking here).

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